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Monti: Italy cannot afford to be Olympic host

The Italian PM has pulled the plug on the country’s 2020 Olympic Games bid.

The Olympic Stadium and village in Rome, 1960.
The Olympic Stadium and village in Rome, 1960.
Image: Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

PRIME MINISTER MARIO Monti has scrapped Italy’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, saying the country cannot afford to play host.

Rome’s aspirations to host the Games for the first time in 60 years were dashed following Monti’s announcement to reporters this week.

Despite pressure from an enthusiastic bid committee and an appeal by 60 top athletes, the decision was taken following a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

The premier – who was appointed to get Italy’s finances back on track – said ministers concluded that Italy could not take on the commitment to offer the necessary financial guarantees.

It is understood that the project would cost up to €10 billion and, according to Bloomberg, Monti said the government could not put the money of taxpayers at risk.

The capital’s bid can no longer go ahead without financial backing.

“We spent hours talking, but (Monti) was unshakable on the subject of the accounts linked to the general economic situation,” bid chairman and IOC Vice President Mario Pescante said. “We have to resign ourselves to the fact that for at least 10 more years, we won’t talk anymore about having the games in Italy.”

National statistics released yesterday showed that Europe’s third-largest economy has slipped back into recession as industrial activity declines and the service sector remains stagnant.

Despite Spain’s own economic woes, its government has backed Madrid’s bid for the games.

“Spending cuts are important, but having a dream, a perspective for the future of the country is important as well,” Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian National Olympic Committee, told SKY TG24 television after the disappointing decision.

Spain took a different decision: They want to have a dream.”

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It will have to be third time lucky for Madrid as it is the city’s third consecutive bid for the Games.

The race to host the 2020 Olympics is now wide open as Doha, Qatar and Tokyo submitted applications this week. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and Istanbul have also thrown their hats in the ring. A final decision will be made by the International Olympics Committee in September 2013.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

-Additional reporting by AP

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